Category: Writing Systems

How different is the modern Greek alphabet from the ancient one? Other than the fact that ancient Greek had only capital letters, does the alphabet also contain letters that modern Greek speakers do not use?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-18 | Comments: 2 Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Writing Systems

In antiquity, every city had its own variant of the Greek alphabet; they varied not only on shape of letter, but also on which letters they used. Athens undertook a spelling reform in 403 BC, under the archonship of Eucleides, which adopted the Milesian variant of the Ionian alphabet, including the letters eta and omega. […]

Why are there ancient, long extinct scripts (e.g. cuneiform) in Unicode?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

https://unicode-table.com/en/blocks/cuneiform/ I’m going to put in a less popular answer: Because they can. Yes, there is research ongoing on extinct scripts, and scholars should be able to exchange texts in those scripts. The thing is, scholars usually exchange Sumerian, Old Egyptian, Mayan etc texts not in the original scripts, but in transliteration. The scholars are […]

Why doesn’t Judeo-Spanish use the letter Ñ?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-30 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

Clyde Thogmartin is right in his answer that traditionally Judeo-Spanish is written in Hebrew (with the quite icky trigraph <ניי> for [ɲ]). But more to the point, even when it is written in Latin script, people writing it usually make a point of not using Spanish orthography: they are putting distance between their language and […]

What is a better way of representing the /ʔ/ and /ʕ/ sounds than apostrophes or other punctuation marks?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-25 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

I’m going to take a long time to say “none”. Glottal stop – Wikipedia The most common convention in Latin script is indeed to use apostrophe; and the disadvantage of the apostrophe is that it’s easy to miss, easy to conflate with a quotation mark, and it doesn’t look like a “real” letter. The same […]

Is it possible to use the ancient Gothic alphabet to write in English?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-25 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_alphabet One might argue that the phonological inventory of Gothic is a spectacularly bad match for that of Modern English. But then again, so was the phonological inventory of Latin. I think you can, so long as you hold your nose and write vowels as a one to one match with Modern English; you’re not […]

Did ASCII and other character sets change the way people think about characters or letters?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-21 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Writing Systems

Nice question! I believe that they have, though this is kind of speculative. ASCII and charsets have cemented the notion of a fixed repertoire of characters available to a language or a context. Specialist printers beforehand did have a little wiggleroom in making up characters for specialist purposes–various iterations of sarcasm marks, one-off diacritics or […]

How could Byzantine writers re-introduce the subscript iota and the breathings, which were long gone at the time?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Mediaeval Greek, Writing Systems

From An introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography : Thompson, Edward Maunde, Sir, (1912), pp. 61–62, My summary: The breathings and accents were invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium, ca 200 BC—when the breathings and accents were still being pronounced. It is believed that they were promoted for the teaching of literary Greek, precisely because they […]

What do sophisticated, neutral, and unsophisticated typefaces from different writing systems look like?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

This is not the most sophisticated of answers; but one bugbear of all type designers outside of the Latin script (and Cyrillic, thanks to Peter the Great) is recent font kiddies slavishly copying the design of Latin fonts. Particularly serifs. Type designers in other scripts hate serifs. Serifs are a Latin thing; Peter the Great […]

Does the use of line breaks in text incentivize (critical) thinking?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-10 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Writing Systems

I think you could argue the reverse, if anything, though I still think that linebreaks are preferable anyway. Let me take an historical approach to this. We use space and punctuation and typography to chop up written discourse into digestible units. Once we have these units, we use our thinking to build up a model […]

Did ancient Greek scholars ever adapt Roman numerals?

By: | Post date: 2017-06-07 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Mediaeval Greek, Writing Systems

Greeks did not adopt Roman numerals, like, ever. (“Roman Numerals? We taught those beef eaters everything they know!”) Where the West uses Roman numerals, Greek continues to use Greek numerals; see examples in Nick Nicholas’ answer to Is it possible to shorten the ordinal numbers in modern Greek? I’m honestly not aware of any tradition […]

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